Is It Okay to Take a Break During a Fight?

The idea of resolving a disagreement or ending a fight as quickly as possible is a popular one, particularly in marriage. But what if the fight lasts a long time? Is it okay to take a break when that happens, or do you have to push through?

When you’re in the midst of an argument with your spouse, it feels highly uncomfortable. It’s natural that you’d want to resolve the disagreement and get back to normal as soon as you can. But sometimes, it takes longer than you’d expect to resolve a challenging issue. And sometimes, that means you’ll need to take a break.

1. Cool Down

Taking breaks from a fight gives you both a chance to cool down. Sometimes, disagreements can cause emotions to run high. We might grow angry and say things we regret later, just out of emotion or even pure exhaustion.

Prioritize cooling down during heated discussions and arguments. You might want to take a few minutes to regroup, or you might even agree to come back to this tomorrow. It’s possible to resolve just about anything if you take your time and keep a clear head.

2. Get Some Distance

Putting a little space between yourselves and the conflict might help you gain a broader perspective on what you’re struggling with. Maybe you need a breather so you can see your spouse’s side of the argument. Or maybe getting some distance will give you a chance to figure out how to articulate your feelings more clearly.

Whatever the case, distance gives you a chance to develop a more objective point of view. Objectivity helps us to be fairer toward one another, because we’re working to remove our opinions and see things as they are. In turn, being more objective could help you solve the problem at hand.

3. Make Room for Empathy

Cooling down and getting some distance from a conflict gives you time to make room for more empathy. True problem solving comes down to our ability to be empathic toward one another. If we can learn to walk in each other’s shoes, we’ll have a greater chance of solving issues simply because we understand each other better.

Empathy is one of the most critical components of a healthy marriage. If you find yourself leaning hard into your side of the argument, take a moment to consider your spouse’s point of view. Why did they choose the stance they’ve taken? What’s the big picture? Are there patterns or behaviors that you can tweak to avoid this issue in the future?

4. Communicate With Intention

It’s no secret that communication takes a big hit during a fight. Taking a break gives you a breather so you can clear your mind and improve your communication with one another. Take a few minutes (or more if you need it) to get clearer on what you’re trying to communicate.

Likewise, use the break to consider everything your spouse has said to you during the conflict, up until this point. Is there something you might understand better now that you’ve got a quiet moment to think it over? Could you have missed a point they were trying to make because you were so upset before?

Wrapping Up

However you go about it, taking a break can help you both regroup and come back with a fresh perspective. Remember to communicate clearly about your desire to take a break, but assure your spouse that you’ll be ready to talk about it again soon.

Taking breaks during fights might just make it easier and more peaceful to solve problems than you think! If needed, negotiate when you’re going to come back to the discussion. This might help your spouse feel more comfortable with the idea of stepping back from time to time.

If you need a guidebook on fair fighting in marriage, The Good Fight can help you out. It’s filled with tips on how to conduct a fair fight with your spouse so you can come out stronger on the other side of conflict. Get your copy here.

Do you and your spouse take breaks during fights? If not, do you plan to start? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.


  • richard stanard says:

    all well and good, but how determine to take the break in the first place? can easily see one spouse wanting the break while the other wants to continue pursuit of the matter, which would llikely make the disagreement even worse

    • A B C says:

      You can determine it yourself. The first step is to take ownership. If you feel yourself losing control and letting your emotions take over, you know you need a break.

      The best part is you don’t need the consent of your partner to take a break. Simply say “If this argument continues, I know I will say or do something I regret because I feel my emotions taking over. I need to separate myself from this conflict to calm down so we can talk about this later. I am doing this because I love you and care about you and I don’t want to hurt you. We can schedule a time to find a resolution together later.”

      Then they can have 2 replies. They can match you and say yes they will schedule a time to find a resolution later.

      Or if they dont and want to try to push on, simply follow up with “I’m sorry that you want to continue this but I know that I can’t continue.” Then you simply leave. You may not want to leave, but you must. When I do this myself I generally go for a drive until I calm down or go for a walk outside. When I first started doing this my wife would try to block me, but if you stick to your guns and establish this healthy boundary, if your partner really loves you they will learn to respect the boundaries you are setting. Now when I say I need a break from a fight I am able to go to my office without her following me. Also we always schedule a time in the furture to discuss, whether it is in an hour, tomorrow, or whenever in the future that we both agree on. Learning to do this has broken the pattern of abuse we had been locked in previously.

      If you can’t get your partner to respect taking a break during fights and they constantly try to stop you from leaving when you feel yourself losing control and it never improves then you have to face you are in an abusive relationship. Not letting someone leave to avoid a nasty fight is abusive.

  • If the conflict is escalating and one spouse says something like this ” I am afraid I am going to say something I regret, I need a break of at least 20 minutes. Then I will come and find you”. It is very important to honor that request. Not to honor the request is to control.

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